Celebrating People’s Differences with Inclusive Fashion

Celebrating People’s Differences with Inclusive Fashion

Innovation with a purpose is at the heart of the relationship between SAP and Runway of Dreams, a non-profit foundation that’s focused on inclusion, acceptance, and opportunities in the fashion industry for people with disabilities. As a fashion designer and mom of an 18-year-old son with muscular dystrophy, founder and CEO Mindy Scheier was inspired by her son’s dressing regimen, which served as a daily reminder of what he could not do easily, including fastening buttons and zippers, putting on shoes, or tying laces.

Speaking at this year’s SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference Orlando during a keynote with Sven Denecken, senior vice president and chief marketing and solutions officer for SAP Industries and Customer Experience, Scheier modestly described her revolutionary strategy.

“I decided to have a small goal of changing the fashion industry to be inclusive of the 1.8 billion people on earth who are living with a disability,” said Scheier. “Having a partner like SAP helps us navigate the world and understand that people with disabilities are living in a world that actually wasn’t made for them. Our equation is that fashion plus technology equals adaptive, and SAP is the platform to help us expand and understand the power of inclusion, especially with the largest minority on our planet.”

Building an Ecosystem of Changemakers

Runway of Dreams develops programs and events that celebrate people’s differences with fashion shows that exemplify the power of collaboration across industry ecosystems. Unlike typical runway events with one fashion designer, numerous world-renowned brands come together to sponsor Runway of Dreams fashion shows that debut clothing designed for people with disabilities. Scheier is also founder and CEO of GAMUT Management, the first-of-its-kind consulting company to work exclusively with and for people with disabilities.

“SAP has come in to help our shared clients understand the huge business opportunity around people with disabilities,” said Scheier. “The button was invented in the 13th century, giving technology a huge opportunity to get involved in this space and be a changemaker. And GAMUT is a platform for that. Just because things have been done in a certain way for years, doesn’t mean that’s how they have to remain.”

Future-Ready Mindset for Industry Differentiation

The fashion industry is just one example of how SAP helps customers stay one step ahead of market dynamics where industries are converging, embedded artificial intelligence (AI) is an indispensable tool, and partner ecosystems are vital for business growth.

“To be future-proof, companies need to have a future-ready mindset,” said Denecken. “Industries are the vertical edge that provides differentiation for the business…and SAP offers that deep industry knowledge to help organizations…navigate every emerging trend, turn the unexpected into opportunities, and differentiate to grow at that vertical edge backed by our industry cloud solutions. We are reshaping every industry.”

Industry Convergence Transforms CX

Denecken used the central “farm to consume” digital showcase at the event as an example of how convergence is rapidly reshaping industries, redefining boundaries between traditional value chains for sustainable, intelligent, and networked business. This improves the customer experience and helps build the circular economy.

“Convergence is happening in every sector. There are many scenarios such as energy where fuel stations are becoming retail stations, [straddling] the oil and gas, automotive, utilities, and retail industries,” he said. “To digitally transform…enabling people, partners, and the entire system to collaborate on product and service experiences, you need to think across industry boundaries to create added value that will differentiate your brand. SAP has the digital industry solutions and business process understanding to help you deliver value that drives profitable growth.”

Generative AI with a Business Purpose

Industry convergence is also behind SAP industry networks, where organizations from industrial manufacturing, life sciences, consumer products, and high technology go beyond traditional partnerships to collaborate across boundaries, sharing data and tools for faster innovation, including embedded generative AI that has a business purpose and delivers results.

“Turning AI technology advancements into business impact is a challenge for many companies, especially if they lack in-house expertise,” said Denecken. “We have built business AI capabilities directly into the SAP portfolio, combining that with our industry knowledge to power critical functions that include transportation management with generative AI, predictive replenishment, intelligent product recommendations, and SAP Digital Assistant, which can provide a unified natural language interface for all SAP solutions.”

Industry-Specific Data Fulfills Customer Promise

Denecken explained how SAP’s mission is to help industries become more customer-centric, linking data company wide. In a fascinating demonstration, Andre Bechtold, senior vice president and head of Solution and Innovation Experience at SAP, showed how the company’s on-site SAP Experience Centers delve into real-world scenarios for industries, connecting data across business value chains between consumers and organizations to strengthen customer relationships and generate revenue from new cross-industry business models.

“We’re making the customer experience more industry tailored, starting with automotive, consumer products, retail, and utilities,” said Denecken. “This allows companies to meet individual customer needs at any touchpoint. Personalized experiences result in increased order sizes, return visits, customer loyalty, higher profit margins, and greater wallet share.”

Driven by cloud-based technologies, industries are blazing new business trails with boundary-crossing innovations like inclusive fashion for consumers.

Susan Galer is a communications director at SAP. Follow her @smgaler.

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